Illustration by Roberto Campus.
I'm sorry it's been a while since I've posted here. Needed to get caught up on some other things, but I pretty much am now. And just in time too, because people are asking me about Graeme McMillan's Wonder Woman article on i09.
I've cringed every time Megan Fox's stupid comment about Wonder Woman's being "lame" popped up on my RSS reader, and it's popped up a lot. And it is a stupid comment. Or at least an ignorant one based on... I don't know what. Watching any random episode of Lynda Carter's TV series will show that there's more to Wonder Woman than an invisible jet and a magic lasso, but that's what Fox reduces her to and uses as her motivation to dismiss the character.
Not that I think Fox would be an adequate choice for the role. I don't care if she wants to play the part or not. What irks me is that - because she's Megan Fox - her comment is getting a lot of attention. It's not the first time that an off-handed comment made by a celebrity got taken more seriously than it deserved, but this one especially bothers me because it's Wonder Woman. I thought that between Gail Simone's work on the comic and the excellent animated movie, we were starting to get past the idea that people don't know what to do with the character. Silly me.
Graeme's quote from Brian Bendis really doesn't bother me. Despite Bendis' being "the most successful writer in the American comic industry," his criticism of Wonder Woman is clearly born from his role as a Marvel writer. Bendis has shown before that he's perfectly willing to take inflammatory digs at DC just to stir things up between the rival publishers. He sees it as part of his job to keep the atmosphere exciting and I'm okay with that. It doesn't mean anyone should take his opinions seriously. He's promoting his new Spider-Woman comic. What do you expect him to say?
In spite of the shaky foundation for an article, I think Graeme does an excellent job pulling apart the problem and looking more closely at it. He quotes recent Wonder Woman writers - including Gail Simone - and points out that even if you can't take Fox and Bendis seriously, there certainly has been a problem clearly defining who Wonder Woman is. I totally agree with that. It's why I wrote a series of articles to try and figure it out for myself.
Graeme also does a nice job of summing up the solution. Thanks to Simone and the animated movie, Wonder Woman's doing just fine in her current adventures, but your average person doesn't know about that.
(It's) easy for people to base misconceptions of the character on the little bits of her pop culture identity that they can remember: the invisible plane, the lasso of truth, and so on. But none of those things are who Wonder Woman is. It's as if Batman was reduced to half-remembered snippets from the Adam West television show...Graeme ends with a call to reconsider Joss Whedon's take, but I'm not willing to go that far. I'm still not convinced - based on what I've heard about it - that his take was a good one. We don't need the first celebrity to come along who wants to make a Wonder Woman movie. We need the right one.
(M)ost people think Wonder Woman is lame because they don't know who Wonder Woman is, but they're unlikely to get to know Wonder Woman because they think Wonder Woman is lame. What she lacks is a Dark Knight Returns (or, for that matter, a Dark Knight); a high-profile project that pushes people to re-evaluate the preconceptions and redefines the character in the mainstream consciousness ... Something made by people with enough name recognition that could overcome concerns or apathy about the character enough to convince the masses to at least give it a try, and enough understanding of what makes the character interesting...
Thinking about it more, I doubt that most people think Wonder Woman is all that lame anyway. More than Megan Fox quotes, my RSS reader gets clogged with countless blog entries by women comparing themselves and each other to Wonder Woman. Invisible plane or not, Wonder Woman is an icon and if a big-budget, live-action, feature film were to be made, people would go to see it. I'm not even sure you need someone all that recognizable attached to it. As producer William Goldberg said, "People are not, in my opinion, going to come for the actress. They’re going to come for Wonder Woman." Maybe not Megan Fox, but everyone else will. Even Brian Bendis.
And as long as it has a strong story and gets the core of Wonder Woman - her confidence - right, audiences will respond to it and forget the cheesier aspects of the character. You don't need to rewrite her origin or redefine her mission. Focus on her as a role model of ultimate confidence (and have a kickass adventure story) and people won't be able to help but fall in love with her.